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New York Jets Off the Clock: Sixth-Round Pick Cornerback Blessuan Austin, Rutgers

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New York Jets Off the Clock: Sixth-Round Pick Cornerback Blessuan Austin, Rutgers

2019-05-18 13:50:241 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: New York Jets sixth-round pick Blessuan Austin breaks up pass. (Image Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The New York Jets had six picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, including three Day 3 selections. As we take the Jets “Off the Clock,” we’ll breakdown all six of their draft picks, concluding with their sixth-round choice:

Round 6; Pick 23 (196th Overall): CB Blessuan Austin, Rutgers

NY Jets Draft Checklist: Offense | Defense | Off The Clock: Quinnen Williams | Jachai Polite | Chuma Edoga | Trevon Wesco | Blake Cashman |

Measurables: In Austin, the Jets added a big-bodied cornerback. He’s 6’1” and 198 pounds, combining both ideal length and bulk for the position. With a 76 7/8” wingspan and 32 ½” long arms, he has the frame to play even bigger. His 10” hands are also extremely large for a cornerback. Coming off a knee injury, he only performed the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine, waiting until his Pro Day to do the other drills. There he posted a subpar 4.65 40-yard dash with a 35” vertical jump and 10’3” broad jump, which was a strong number. Closer to the draft, Austin ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at his personal pro day.

Skill Set: When healthy, Austin could really ball. He’s not just long, he knows how to use his size very well, as he excels at getting his hands on the football. At Rutgers, he flashed his long speed, capable of running with receivers down the field, as well as the quickness to stay with them off breaks. His size allows him to flourish in press coverage and he has above-average ball skills.

Value: If not for a second ACL injury, Austin would have gone much earlier, possibly on Day 2 of the draft. So, while he was expected to go in the sixth-round range (or later) due to the injury, Austin has more upside than your typical late Day 3 selection.

Need: The Jets got worse at cornerback in the offseason and they weren’t very good to begin with. Yes, they added Brian Poole in free agency but allowed Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne to walk. Unless Trumaine Johnson has a major bounce back season, the Jets could be very bad at the cornerback spot.   

Mogollon’s Pick: Offensive line is still on my mind and Ohio State’s Isaiah Prince (No. 202) would have been a very tempting prospect at his point in the draft. He feels like a boom-or-bust type, but how often can you select a potential starting tackle this late in the draft? His length and athleticism make the Buckeye a worthwhile risk.

Off the Clock (Rd. 1): 1-4, 5-8, 9-14, 15-20, 21-26, 27-32 | Defensive ROY Odds | NY Giants Checklist: Offense | Defense | 2020 Draft: No. 1 Pick Odds

Who Else Did They Pass Up? Other cornerbacks selected in the sixth round include Virginia’s Tim Harris (No. 198), Rashad Fenton out of South Carolina (No. 201), and Kansas State’s Duke Shelley (No. 205), although none of them bring as high a ceiling as Austin does. Other big names who went off the board shortly after Austin's was called are NC State wide out Kelvin Harmon (No. 206) and Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson (No. 211).

The Fit: The Jets love his size and ability to play in coverage. Depth is needed behind Trumaine Johnson on the outside and some view Brian Poole as more of an inside cornerback. If he’s healthy, Austin will fit in just fine into New York’s defense.

2019 Outlook & Beyond: It’s hard to know what to expect from Austin this season, considering he’s coming off a second ACL tear at Rutgers. According to former general manager Mike Maccagnan, the sixth-round pick could start the season on the physically unable to perform list. Not only is his health an issue, but his progress leading up to his rookie season will be stalled. For that reason, it’s a very cloudy outlook on how much Austin can contribute in 2019. If healthy, he will compete for a backup role and look to earn a spot on special teams. Beyond this season, the Jets will have done well if they found a reliable backup this late in the draft with some hope that a healthy Austin can blossom into something more.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: danmogollon@gmail.com.

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